I’ve been thinking lately about leadership. What it is exactly and what it takes to be a great leader. Leading yourself as well as leading teams.

And from my experience of about a decade now of being in the corporate world, sales and entrepreneurship I think the the term leadership is often misunderstood and misused. Individuals and managers throw it around as if it is. But what is leadership exactly?

Defining and Refining

Well if we break it down and look it up most literature will say leadership is the action of leading? I think we can safely say that we’re looking to get a bit more refinement than leaving it at that. Diving deeper into the topic of “leading” we see that it’s defined as the guidance towards what’s most important. And if we again go even deeper, important is defined as of having great significance.

Based on the literature we can think of leadership as guidance of a team towards what’s most significant.

So then what is guidance all about? Well I think of a big piece of leadership as having control. When you’re out of control whether that’s with yourself or your life or your business you’re no longer in a place where things feel lead. There’s a chaos and gloom that things are just not what they should be.

1) Control

So from my perspective taking control is one of the biggest keys to leadership. And that absolutely starts with taking control of yourself first!

When you know you’re supposed to be doing something but you’re not getting it done, then things aren’t going to be lead very effectively. But when you have full control of the situation, whoever, whatever that is.. generally there’s going to be a sense of leadership.

As I’ve said before with any true changes you have to know where you’re at. You can’t navigate to a destination if you don’t know where you’re starting point is. Heading west if you’re already too far west is not going to get you where you want to go. So a big piece of being a a leader is taking control of understanding where you’re at.

Get reports, take inventory, do a honest self reflection of where you are and where you’re headed. In my life I journal every single day to reflect and contemplate where I am currently. It’s a lot easier to lie to yourself when it’s not on paper. But if you’re writing it down right in front of yourself you’re going to see where you’re at. You’ll have direct, real, raw feedback. And if you’re still going to lie to yourself then at least you’re doing out front.

So you have to know where you are, and you have to get a clear picture often of that.

2) Priorities

The next piece of the puzzle is understanding and clarifying your priorities. We’re all human animals. We all evolved over 100s of millions of years and as such there’s a lot of noise and short-term gratification that can suck your attention and focus and decisions towards the seemingly “more urgent but less important.” It may take practice, consistently slow progress and relentless determination to keep your priorities top of your mind. 

I can usually pretty easily stay on track to accomplish short term 1-3 day, even 1-2 week goals. But the big audacious hairy and scary goals, the ones that I can’t quite see the path to achieve like… Taking Crushvertise to $20M/year company and beyond are a bit more intimidating and elusive of goals to keep top of radar. I find my mind tends to shift to “easier” goals whenever I try to focus on more difficult tasks and loftier more complex long term goals.

It’s likely a mechanism of our biology. Everything short-term, everything simple, everything instant. I should go eat an energy bar right now – that sounds so delicious and it will be a lot easier than writing, recording and editing this post. *Sigh* but this discipline thing is so great. It keeps me on track and it keeps me pressing forward even when I feel confused, lost and overall not great or excited about what’s going on. Protip: if you’re lost here, come up with some clear values (things you think are most valuable to you) and goals both short term and long term that you value to better define your personal priorities.

Full Circle

So that brings us full circle to my thinking about what this whole leadership thing is.

It’s all about having control, about knowing where you’re at, about knowing what’s going on, and about knowing what’s most important. As harsh as it sounds if you’re not DOING that which you know is most important than you’ve lost control of yourself and you’re not going to be a great leader. You’re not going to be a great leader to others or to yourself. That said if you’ve gotten a strong handle on these two main pieces you’ll likely inspire and have many others join you on your missions both in business and life.

Let’s all be the best leaders we can be, please tell me what you think about leadership and how you think it translates and works in your life. 

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